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Coxhoe Hall

Coxhoe Hall was once considered to be one of the finest houses in County Durham.  It is famous for being the birth place of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

It was set high on a south facing hillside adjacent to the site of Coxhoe medieval village. A tree-lined avenue led to the Hall and it was surrounded by grounds with terraces, tennis courts and walled garden.

Coxhoe Hall

Who lived here?
Coxhoe Hall, a medieval manor house, was owned by.
1300: John de Denum.  He was succeeded by his heir and brother William.
1418: William Blakiston, Knight, died 1418.  It was then inherited by various members of the Blakiston family including William Blakiston who died 1561 and is buried at Kelloe.
1672: Mary Blakiston married William Kennett of Sellendge, Kent and ownership stayed with the Kennett family. John and Nicholas Kennett are also buried at Kelloe.
1725 : John Burdon rebuilt the Hall in castellated Gothic style .  He later made several alterations and additions.

1795: Sugar plantation owners, Mr and Mrs Edward Barrett returned to England from the West Indies and leased the Hall.  Their daughter, Elizabeth, was born here on 6th March 1806 and son Edward in 1807.  They were baptized at Kelloe Church in1808.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The family moved to an estate in Hertfordshire in 1809.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806 – 1861

Elizabeth became a renowned poetess, political thinker and feminist. She married, the poet, Robert Browning, in 1846 and lived at Florence, Italy until her death in 1861. 
Perhaps her best known poems are ‘Sonnets for the Portuguese’ which expressed her love for Robert.

How do I Love Thee?  Let me count the Ways
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seem to lose

John Wood

John Wood

With my lost saints, - I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

1817: Anthony Wilkinson of Durham bought the Hall
1850:  It passed to Thomas Wood, a Mining engineer, inherited by his son William Henry, a coal owner until his death in 1910.  William’s wife passed it to her son John in 1928.
Mr John Wood and Miss Maud Mary Wood had a wide interest in local activities and played an active part in many. 
Mr Wood was one of the founders of the Cricket Club at Coxhoe.

Miss Wood took part in the Women’s Institute activities and supported the new Social and Literary Institute built in 1933. She gave a considerable sum of money towards the addition of the Dance Hall and Supper Rooms in 1938.  There is a plaque in Coxhoe Village Hall in her memory.

Pavillion Opening

John and Maud Hall opening Coxhoe Cricket Pavilion

:  The Hall was bought by East Hetton Colliery Co.  It was requisitioned in WW2 and housed British troops and Italian and German prisoners of war. 

The Hall fell into disrepair and was finally demolished by the National Coal Board in 1956.

In 1725 when the hall was rebuilt fashion of the period altered the house to give a Gothic appearance with battlements and pointed windows.    Italian workmen made fine plasterwork and fireplaces a feature of the house. The north staircase was oak.

Oak North Staircase
Carved Fireplace

The fireplace in the drawing-room was formed of ornate carved wood figures with floral wreaths arranged around the Burdon Crest which was placed in the centre.

In 1899 the estate included four lodges, woodland, farms and a mill.  These with the Hall provided valuable employment for the local community.

West Lodge

West Lodge


Coxhoe Hall Tapestry

North Lodge

North Lodge

South Lodge

South Lodge

East Lodge

East Lodge

Coxhoe Hall Estate Map

Workers needed for the Hall and Estate included Companions, Nurse, Nursery maid, Housekeepers, Cooks, Parlour and Kitchen maids, Laundress …
Former workers include members of the Picken, Dee, Ingledew and Bell families and Hilda TalbotHilda Talbot’s memories give us an insight into life at the Hall…                                 

“I worked at the Hall from 1916 until 1924.  For one year I was a housemaid, then for the following seven years I was a parlour maid.  I left to get married…. Some of the Parlour maid’s duties were to answer the door and the telephone, wait on at evening dinner and to clean the drawing room with the help of the Housemaids on Tuesdays in preparation for the Woods’ ‘At Home’ on Wednesdays…… 
…. Mr Wood was involved with Collieries at Trimdon. He used to drive up to the Colliery using phatou and horse. He also had a post of High Sherriff. He liked cider…. Mary Maud Wood and Clara went to Coxhoe Church and Miss Bertie and John Wood went to Kelloe Church.”

“There were five servants in the house while I was there; two Housemaids, Parlour maid, Cook and Kitchen maid”.…Miss Wall (Housekeeper) inherited an estate in Cheltenham with an annuity of £14 per week. Martha, a housemaid, left with her….“Mrs Cattermawl was the last laundry maid.”  When Mr Hopper died his wife and family moved into the laundry.”

Coachman, Chauffeur

Coachman, Chauffeur -             

“Mr Morrell (Chauffer) lived in North Lodge…Mr Gilbert Telfer was Chauffer until Mr Woods died. He inherited a Sunbeam car and money.”

Gamekeepers, Groom, Stable boys, Gardeners –
“H Bell (gardener- mid 1920s to 1930 ) lived in East Lodge”
Estate Builder, Plumber, Joiner and Blacksmith

Hilda always claimed she’s seen the Blue Lady ….

Legend of the Blue Lady

The ‘Blue Lady’ was a young maidservant who worked at one of the village grand houses.  She had fallen in love with a handsome coachman at Coxhoe Hall. 
The coachman was a very jealous person and on seeing the naïve young maid being friendly with other men, he became enraged.
One evening he enticed her into a small alcove cupboard in a remote corner of Coxhoe Hall.  Once there he quickly slammed and locked the heavy door leaving the maid alone in a dark confined space.  She tried desperately to open the door but slowly suffocated as the oxygen diminished.

Her body was discovered days later and although her death was unreported gossip soon spread throughout the village. 
When sightings of the ‘Blue Lady’ began to appear at Coxhoe Hall and the nearby woods, the villagers believed that it was the unhappy spirit of the maid.

“I remember delivering the post to the front entrance of the hall and pulling a handle connected to a chain that rang a bell. This summoned the Housekeeper who opened a hinged pane of glass through which she collected the mail and gave me a cup of coffee. On the return Journey from my round I collected the mail from the Hall for posting in the village”.                  Billy Etherington

“I remember one Christmas when we were out carol singing. We heard this loud clatter of feet then saw about 12 ranks of Italian Prisoners marching four abreast down The Avenue going to the Roman Catholic Church at Cornforth.  They were singing “Silent Night” in Italian. We all stood and listened.  It was beautiful.”                                Marie Routledge (nee Ellerby)

Remaining Walls
Wall Remains

Remains Of Coxhoe Hall

Coxhoe Hall Wall Remains

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